Thursday, September 01, 2016

Vintage Postcards - Pacific Ocean Park!

It's time for the 37th installment from Ken Martinez's vintage amusement park postcards, from his personal collection!! Today is an extra-special one in my opinion because it concerns...

Pacific Ocean Park - The Banana Train

Today we visit Pacific Ocean Park or P.O.P. for a peek at the Banana Train ride. Of all the attractions at this theme park which most of us missed, the Banana Train would be on the top of my list to ride.

We start with an art card showing the exterior layout of Mystery Island Banana Train Ride. It's got quite a compact layout. Love the volcano at the end of the pier.

This is one of my favorite P.O.P. postcards. I like the South Seas motif throughout the area. The partially hidden sign probably says "Mr. Octopus" which was a standard Eyerly Octopus ride with eight tubs. Was that Pineapple Whip stand to the left of Pacific Island Gifts?

Up ahead is Mystery Island where the exotic Banana Train carries passengers through a tropical adventure. There are two trains: one on its way to the load area and the other parked in the unload area. Love the totems. Also the Ocean Skyway's "bubble cabins" are visible in the back as they make their turnaround from atop the volcano.

You've got to have rockwork if you're a modern theme park. I assume it was built there as a passage/access bridge for maintenance concerns on the "island" pier. Again, the area seems very compact and tight.

The bridge is loaded with tourists. I hope it holds up. While it does give the appearance of being a suspension bridge, it actually looks quite stationary when looking at the ramp the patrons are walking on.

Great shot of the waterfall! I take it the water is sucked up out of the ocean and pumped into the pond with the water flowing back into the ocean. Notice the bamboo fencing and catwalk to the right out of the rider's view. Wonder if any maintenance workers took a dive off that walk.

I'll end this visit with an art card view of the interior of the volcano section of the Banana Train Ride.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to Pacific Ocean Park's Banana Train. More to come!

Information Source material:
The Great American Amusement Park, copyright 1976 by Gary Kyrazi

THANK YOU as always to Ken Martinez for sharing these great postcards! Ken has a few that I lack (like that rare volcano card) - maybe now I don't have to look for them.


Nanook said...


Thanks once again, for sharing these great images of POP. Living in Brentwood, I paid many a visit to POP before it became rundown and met its ultimate, untimely demise. And needless to say, these images remind me of the good times spent at that ocean-side playground.

And you too, Major - thanks.

TokyoMagic! said...

That artwork for the interior of the volcano is giving me a Knott's Mine Ride/Bubbling Pot Room vibe and a little bit of a Disneyland Rainbow Caverns vibe. I wish I could have seen it in person! What a shame P.O.P. didn't survive. Thanks for sharing more of your collection with us, Ken!

Scott Lane said...

Wow, how cool! The bridge, the volcano, that wrap-around waterfall - what a great design! A shame the park didn't survive.
Thanks, Ken (and Major) for sharing.

Chuck said...

I think I may have found the design for my summer home.

Thanks again for sharing, Ken. I really appreciate the research you put into your postcard posts. And, of course, your collection is simply staggering in size and quality.

Anonymous said...

POP was already closed down, though the pier was not completely abandoned by the time my family got to Los Angeles in 1968. There was still the old Aragon Ballroom which was used as a movie location (They a Shoot Horses, Don't They among others), as well as a rehearsal spot for the Rolling Stones 1969 US tour.
The abandoned park was also featured in several films and TV show, probably most famously the conclusion of the series 'The Fugitive.'
There was also still a restaurant (Jack's On The Beach) and a small 'head shop' selling all sorts of paraphernalia and underground comic books.
Best still were several easy to enter areas allowing intrepid young counter culture types (self included) to enter the forbidden and abandoned park, allowing for one to explore the place while imbibing in Ripple or Spanada wine, or any number of consciousness expanding substances.
Ahhhh, those were the days.

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, I envy you of that! I would've loved to have seen POP in all it's glory.

TokyoMagic!, It's definitely got the Calico Mine Ride's "Heaven Room" vibe to it except the Banana Train version looks like the "Hell Room".

Scott Lane, I think the South Seas "island" with wrap-around waterfall and Banana Train would've been the main draw for me to go to POP. I haven't seen anything like it in any other park.

Chuck, I always wanted a thatched hut home with two banana cars in the garage.

Anonymous, I do remember seeing the ruins of POP in the distance when I went fishing off a nearby pier with my uncle and cousin.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Ken. And waterfalls. Thanks to all of the waterfalls, wherever you are...

Nanook said...

Since it hasn't already been mentioned in this post, it would be sacrilege not to mention Chris Merritt's incredible book about Pacific Ocean Park - Pacific Ocean Park: The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles' Space Age Nautical Pleasure Pier. No other single source has achieved what this book has in terms of the park's history, the people and their stories behind the design and execution of the 'Pleasure Pier', the images depicting copious amount of park ephemera, and the swell images both of the park and the people who were lucky-enough to walk on its 'boardwalk'. Either to evoke great memories or as a window into the past, this book is the next best thing to being there.

I know the above text sounds like a solicited plug, but nothing could be further from the truth. The book is just a grand achievement at capturing a place and a time with great accuracy, depth of detail, and a bit of love. And it should be included in everyone's reference library to gain a bit of knowledge and joy.

K. Martinez said...

Patrick Devlin, Yes, waterfalls! It's what makes an amusement park extra special. Even the Santa Cruz Boardwalk near where I live has a nice volcanic waterfall backdrop to the Cave Train loading area.

Nanook, I have the book. It's wonderful! I hope Chris Merritt does more projects like his P.O.P. and Knott's Berry Farm books. He does such a stellar job on them.

Anonymous said...

From the perspective of a then 12 year old, The Banana Train was one of the coolest rides at POP. I can vividly remember the view of the ocean as the train popped out of the volcano briefly to make a turn-around at the very end of the pier. It was shame for it to fall apart as it did. KS